Former Hawkeye Dwight pushes for solar power at the UI


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The worldwide initiative to “go green” by expanding solar power has hit the University of Iowa via a former Hawkeye football star.

Tim Dwight, a member of the Iowa Solar/Small Wind Energy Trade Association, has teamed up with Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, and Kimberly Dickey, the president of the Iowa Renewable Energy Association, in an effort to bring more solar-energy infrastructures to the UI.

“I played in this stadium, and I want to power this stadium,” Dwight said during a press conference at Kinnick Stadium.

UI students Andrew Woronowicz, a representative of the UI Sierra Student Coalition, and Allison Kindig, an industrial engineering major from Cedar Rapids, also advocated the proposal on Tuesday during a press conference.

“It is a necessary change we must make to move beyond unsustainable sources of energy,” Woronowicz said. 

Hogg will introduce the proposal, which will call for $3.1 million in funds to bring more solar power to the UI.

The solar facilities would produce approximately $100,000 worth of electricity per year. The proposal calls for 1,240 kilowatts of solar electric power to be installed at the UI in 2013.

The proposal would cut approximately $100,000 in current electricity costs and create up to 20 full-time jobs for up to eight weeks.

Dwight said the energy trade association has been in existence since January 2011, and it not only promotes the use of solar energy by citizens, it also lobbies for policy in the government.

“It’s our future — it’s about job creation, investment, energy, and security,” he said. “Why wouldn’t we want to harness energy straight from its source?”

Dwight noted that the United States installed 1.8 gigawatts of solar energy last year. In comparison, Germany installed 7.5 gigawatts, 1.8 of which came in June.

“This industry is exploding,” Dwight said. “We’re starting to break this down so it can be economical for every Iowan to use solar energy.”

Hogg said the $3.1 million price tag is a small chunk of the state’s projected $321 million cash surplus.

“We have the money,” he said. “This is a very good long-term investment.”

Dickey said the money saved by the proposal would create enough funds for 12 full-tuition scholarships for in-state students.

“Solar energy is Iowa’s newest farming industry,” she said. “All we need to do is look at existing rooftops where we could put the solar panels.”

The proposal would place solar-energy equipment at numerous UI facilities, including the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex, Kinnick Stadium, the new Hawkeye football indoor practice facility, the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center, and the Beckwith Boathouse.

The proposal would eliminate nearly 1,500 tons of carbon-dioxide pollution each year. It also works towards the goal of creating 20,000 new clean-energy jobs set by the coalition of Iowa Renewable Energy Jobs 2020. The coalition seeks to save Iowans more than $1 billion in energy costs per year by 2020.

“Solar power works to create jobs, reduce energy costs, and meet our obligations to the environment and future generations,” Hogg said. “Let’s turn solar power into Hawkeye power.”

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